Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Annapolis Sailboat Show, the Traditional Sailboats

The final installment of the Annapolis Sailboat Show posts, here are the traditional mono-hull boats that we looked at. Included is our favorite or our vote for "best in show".  Again, these impressions are based on our naive eye with a focus on the livability aspects of the boats and are again boats we should be able to least used.  As the specific details of each day fade, these are in alphabetical order.  Unlike the catamarans, we often looked at two or three models of each in the 35~42 foot range.

In the Beneteau line, we looked at the Oceanis series 37 and 41.

The Oceanis 37 was a nice two-berth layout.  As is typical on a mono-hull, the forward berth is a V-berth (think triangular shaped bed to fit into the pointy end of the boat), the salon takes the center portion of the boat including an L shaped galley and head, and another larger berth that tucks under the cockpit.  One thing I didn't expect was how light it was inside the cabin.  Often people describe the interior of a traditional sailboat as "entering the basement", but I found these to have a lot of light for a basement.
The 41 was similar, but instead of a single berth there were two berths aft and a little larger salon.  Both boats were well appointed with  a lot more wood accents than I recall seeing on the cats.

At Catalina we started off looking at the new 311, which is the newer edition of the 309.  This seems a bit small for a long-term live-aboard, but we will be renting one soon and wanted to see one in person ahead of time.  It should be suitable for a few days.  Stepping up to the 387, the space improves as it should.  The rear berth is a better size and other than the headroom would make a fair owners cabin.

The berth is angled, so it may not be quite as comfortable as it appears in this image.  stepping up again to the 440, everything seems to improve space wise, except the berths.

We also saw a couple Hunters and an Island Packet 370.  Given Hunter's reputation, we didn't really spend a lot of time looking at them.  The Island Packets, having exactly the opposite reputation was more interesting.  The design was rather old-school in general with smaller portholes instead of the larger windows found on most newer boats.  The forward berth is quite different than the typical v-berth as it has a more respectable shaped bed instead of the typical wedge.
I do wonder why they didn't use some of the space to the sides of the pedestal as storage/nightstand space though.   While most boats seem to have a larger rear berth when there are only  two, the IP 370's rear berth is smaller than the forward berth.

Our final contender were offerings from Jeanneau.  We got a chance to sail the Sun Odyssey 379 as part of our Take the Wheel seminar and found it quite a nice boat to sail.  Taking a little more time at their booth, we found the interior to be a pretty typical layout for this size boat: a v-berth at front, a salon seating area behind that, followed by an L shaped galley on one side and head on the other, and finally a berth aft.  Then we took a look at the Sun Odyssey 41 DS.  This is our pick for best in show. They raised the deck so the lower spaces have bigger windows and the most light below deck of any of the traditional sailboats we checked out.
Don't know what they were thinking with orange in this picture.
The V-berth in front is pretty standard fare.  But the aft owners cabin is quite impressive.  A queen size berth with two seats, plenty of storage make this a space you don't see on many boats.
With the aft cockpit, the headroom is still lacking.  My only real concern with this layout is the same concern I have with most of the boats we got to see at the show and that is how well you can take advantage of cooling breezes at anchor (the bow points into the wind at anchor which puts the aft berth at the lee side of the boat).  But the space of the owners berth and the windows and light that rival some of the catamarans make this boat an overall winner.  Of course, this boat is new for 2013, so no used boats making it unlikely we'll end up with one.  Maybe we can find something similar.

So, you may be wondering if there was any progress towards a decision between catamaran and mono-hull.  Sadly, not too much.  Each have advantages and disadvantages and we're still having a bit of a hard time determining which items are essential and which are not.  Hopefully we will gain more insight during our ASA 104/114 course.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Catamarans at the Annapolis Boat Show

As promised, here is more information and impressions from the boats we saw at the show.  Remember we don't know a lot about buying a it will be very interesting to see what we think about these comments in a few months or years.  We will likely not buy new, but that's most of what is at the show.  At this point we didn't know if we would prefer a catamaran or mono-hull, so we were looking at both.  Here are the catamarans:

The first catamaran we looked at was a Gemini Legacy 35.

This is a newer variant of the popular Gemini 105MC.  I can see why these boats are popular.  They are a reasonable size at 35' length and with a 14' beam they should be a bit easier to find a slip for than the average cat.  In this small space they have a queen size master berth which is impressive.  This berth is up front where cooling breezes should be easily obtainable at anchor.

 There is a double berth and an option for either a second double berth or a second head.  The boat is a "galley down" which means that the galley is located down in one of the hulls.  It doesn't seem all that separated as the floor in the hull isn't that far below the salon deck.  As with most catamarans, there is a lot of window and light in the salon and since the master berth is in front of the salon it shares the same features.  The boat does have some items that feel a bit cheap...such as a number of hatches that explicitly state "no step"...wonder if that would be a concern if stumbling about on a rolling deck trying to correct a fouled sail or line.  Overall, this floor plan would work nicely for us.  The difference between the 105MC and the Legacy appears that the Legacy now has two diesel engines and has replaced the centerboards with shoal draft keels.

Other than the Fountaine Pajot 41 we were able to sail on during the take the wheel course, we also looked at the Mahe 36.
This boat was a "galley up" design with a smaller galley space than the Gemini located in the main salon area on the bridge deck.  Again light and airy as one would expect on a cat.  The model we saw was the two stateroom version, but I understand that it comes with a three stateroom version that looses one of the heads.  Going from the salon down into either hull you found a cabin with a tapered near queen size berth in the rear of the hull and a head in the forward part.

Unlike the Gemini, you were pretty isolated when down in one of the hulls...a good thing since they are basically the bedrooms.  Outside we found it easier to get from cockpit to the fore-deck as the walkway widths were wider than the Gemini.  The view at the helm was better too, although I'm not sure if a bimini or dodger is available for the helm station (and I imagine it would suck to be baking in the sun or drenched when manning the wheel).

We also saw another small catamaran we hadn't heard of prior to the show called a Tomcat 9.7.  The layout was fairly similar to the Gemini, with a couple of quirky exceptions.  The master cabin was open to the salon area and the access to the master cabin was through the head.  The boat did have a trampoline on the fore-deck while the Gemini had a hard deck.  It also had two outboard gasoline engines instead of the inboard diesel(s) of the Gemini  and Fountaine Pajot models.  The quirks are just not something we felt we could live with, so we didn't look at this boat very long.

The final cat we took a reasonably serious look at was the Lagoon 380.
The largest of the cats we would consider (without winning the lottery anyway).  The one at the show was the 4 stateroom version with the two smaller heads.  This is also a galley-up design.  The space in the salon is nice and the galley was a bit larger than the Fountain Pajot, but I'm not sure it was larger counter space wise than the Gemini.  The berths were all contained in the two hulls.  The aft berths were larger, but I think they were shy of queen size.  The forward berths were closer to v-berths.  Overall, for the increased size of this boat, it seemed that the space was not very efficiently used.

Of the catamarans, I think our favorites that would be within our budget (at least used) would be the Gemini and the Fountaine Pajot.  The master stateroom, overall size, and galley space are the big winners for the Gemini while the deck space and guest room space were the winners for the Fountaine Pajot.  I'm wondering how important having the master berth be at the front of the boat where it can take advantage of any breeze at anchor will be.  In the tropics I assume this will be important.

Next time I'll go through the mono-hulls we looked at as well as our favorite boat overall.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If you want to see a sailboat

It's no secret that we really don't know a lot about all the various live-aboard sailboats out there.  So, what do you do when you want to know about go to the largest sailboat show in the world*...the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis.  So, that is what we did this past weekend.
Not of the show itself...but Annapolis is a sailing town
It was quite an experience.  You can look at pictures and floor plans, but until you actually see them in person, walk the decks, stand (or hunch over) in the berths, climb around and generally experience them in person, you really never know.  You can find boats of all sizes and price ranges at the show, but with our limited amount of time we focused on the sizes and makers we thought would likely fit our needs.  On the monohull side, we looked at Beneteau, Catalina, Hunter, Island Packet and Jeanneau.  On the catamaran side, we looked at boats from Fountaine Pajot, Gemini, Lagoon, Tomcat.

Most of our first full day at the show was participating in their "Take The Wheel" workshop. This consisted of breakfast, presentations for new sailors on purchasing your first boat, lunch, taking two boats out for a demonstration sail, and a wine and cheese party.  The presentations contained a fair amount of information we recently learned in class but had some other good information. We got to take a Fountaine Pajot 41 and a Jenneau 379 out for a spin.  The catamaran was having some issues, so we motor-sailed it.  It was fairly maneuverable with the engines, but I don't know how she would be under sail alone.  The Jenneau on the other hand wasn't having problems and we had a real chance to see how it performed.  It was fun to sail and I could easily see sailing it just the two of us.  Despite the issues on the first boat, they were both good experiences and I would highly recommend taking this workshop for anyone new to sailing that would like to experience larger boats.

In my next post, I'll cover more details on the boats we saw at the show, and what we've determined so far about our future boat.  Stay tuned...

*this is a claim that was made at the idea how true it is...but the show is pretty big.